My late Grandma, Mary, used to proclaim that our family descended from “a long line of Lancashire witches”. It is thanks to her I have had a lifelong interest in the supernatural and otherworldly, but have always been keenly aware that my daughter and I are preceded by centuries of female oppression. So it is no surprise that Emilia Hart’s wonderful debut, Wayward, a story of three generations of witches, resonated with me.
In 1619, we find Altha awaiting trial, accused of using witchcraft to kill her friend’s husband. In 1942, Violet mourns the death of her mother, and becomes curious about her past after finding the word “weyward” scratched on her bedroom wall. And in the present day, Kate is fleeing from an abusive partner, to a run-down cottage left to her by her great aunt.
Each of the aforementioned women suffer at the hands of men, but circumstances lead them to discover their inner power, and harness nature to their advantage. The links between Violet, Kate, and Altha are beautifully revealed, but as individual characters the Weyward women are incredibly strong.
I love Weyward; it’s a fantastic novel. It is so incredibly depressing that women are generally still regarded as “lesser” in society, and the huge strides taken by those who came before us amount to fairy steps in the grand scheme of things. But while Hart’s characters are assisted in their liberation by supernatural means, it is the support of other women that ensure that they remain liberated.
I highly recommend Weyward to lovers of powerful, feminist fiction. The story is incredibly engaging and relevant. And the gorgeous ending made me cry.
Weyward is out right now! Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the ARC!
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